How to Build a Play Kitchen

My wife and I decided that my daughter would have fun with a play kitchen. After looking at what was available I decided to make one from scratch. This project took WAY longer than we initially thought but it was fun to create a custom design with some personal touches.

Materials:

Tools

  1. Rigid Table Saw

  2. Dewalt 12in Planer

  3. Porter Cable 6in Jointer

  4. Bosch Miter Saw

  5. General's Arm-R-Seal

  6. Woodpeckers 6in Square

  7. Heat Gun

  8. 50W Laser Cutter

  9. CNC: Inventables X-Carve

Step 1: Breakdown Plywood

The entire frame, doors, and drawers were constructed for 3/4 in plywood. I initially broke the 4x8ft sheets down with a circular saw and cut everything to size on the table saw.

Step 2: Assemble the Frame

The entire frame was put together with pocket holes. I used the Kreg K4 jig which made the process fairly quick. Wood glue was added as the joints were screwed together. All of the pocket holes were filled in with wooden plugs that were cut flush and sanded.

Step 3: Add Edgebanding

To cover the edge of the plywood I used iron-on edgebanding. I've used the stick on type in the past but didn't have much luck. This is a pretty tedious process but gives a great overall look. The edge banding has a bit of an overhang which can be trimmed with a special tool or a sharp chisel.

Step 4: Assemble the Solid Doors

All of the doors and drawer fronts were solid pieces of plywood. I didn't apply edge banding to these but this could be an option, just make sure to leave enough clearance.

Once the doors were assembled I used a Forstner bit to drill out a hole for the hinges. I used the same style hinge throughout the build.

Step 5: Assemble the "Glass" Doors

I wanted to have a few doors that you could see through. Instead of glass, I used 1/8 in clear acrylic. The door frame was constructed from plywood with a small notch cut out on the table saw to allow the acrylic to lay flush. The doors were held together with pocket holes and wood glue.

Step 6: Assemble the Drawers

The drawers were put together with brad nails and wood glue. Pocket holes could have been used but I was running low on wooden pegs. 1/4 in plywood was used on the bottom and attached with brad nails. I didn't glue this in place in case I needed to replace the bottom in the future.

Simple drawer slides were used and the drawer was placed 1/4in from the bottom of the frame.

Step 7: Build the Butcher Block Countertop

For the counters, I wanted to mimic the look of butcher block. Instead of using a hardwood like most real counters I used cheap pine 2x4's. These were all run across the jointer and planer to get square stock. Then they were cut into thin pieces to give the butcher block look.

Everything was glued together in a random pattern so that the gaps between the boards didn't line up. I used a belt sander and planer to get everything to a uniform thickness.

The top was finished with several coats of General's Finish Arm-R-Seal.

Step 8: Building the Frame for the Farmhouse Sink

Now that the basic structure is built it's time to move into making this thing feel like a real kitchen. The video above goes into more detail about the second part of this process.

Every kitchen seems to have a farmhouse sink. Since I couldn't find a miniature one I made mine from EVA foam. This stuff is really easy to work with and fairly cheap. This was actually a play mat with one smooth side. I doubled up on the top and front of the sink so the textured side wouldn't be seen.

After all the pieces were cut down on the table saw I used contact cement to glue it all together.’

Step 9: Fill the Cracks and Sand

All of the seams in the foam were filled with caulk. I then could round over all the edges with a combination of sandpaper and a Dremel tool.

The foam was sealed with a heat gun prior to painting.

Step 10: Harden the Farmhouse Sink

The sink was finished with a two-part epoxy from Smooth-on called Epilson Pro. This is used in lots of costume/prop builds and creates a smooth and semi-rigid surface. After everything dried I applied a high-gloss white spray paint.

Step 11: Laser Cut/engrave Stove Top

I used my 50W CO2 laser to cut and engrave a small version of our real life stove top. The acrylic was engraved on the reverse side to leave a smooth surface on top when it was attached.

The acrylic was attached with super glue and I painted the section of the countertop underneath black to make the design pop.

Step 12: Engraving the Doors

The oven door and twin doors were also engraved with a similar process as the oven top.

Step 13: Creating the Microwave Touchpad

I wanted the microwave touchpad to be inset. I used my CNC to carve out a pocket that was the same thickness as the acrylic. Then using a similar process as before the acrylic was engraved and cut to match our real-life microwave.

Step 14: Creating the Oven Dials

I created a 3D model of the oven dial in Fusion 360. I then sent this to my CNC to carve out. These dials were painted red with a high gloss clear acrylic on top.

The temperature dials were created from clear acrylic. Instead of painting the wood black I actually painted the back of the acrylic. I first painted it white and sanded it off to only leave white in the engraved sections. Then the back was painted black.

Step 15: Attaching the Dials

I hand carved a small notch on the top of the dials with a v-chisel.

The dials were attached with a 1/4 in the bolt. I predrilled both the dials and acrylic circle plates before assembly.

Step 16: Attaching the Faucet

I bought a small (cheap) faucet and attached it to the countertop with the supplied template.

Step 17: Attaching All the Hardware

I also purchased all the hardware for the door and drawer pulls and attached with a cordless drill.

Step 18: That's It!


The project was a ton of fun to put together and I'm looking forward to having some real storage space to keep all of my daughter's kitchen toys!

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Brandon Cullum